The best thing you can do for yourself as a new soaper is not to give up. I'm not kidding. This mindset can be applied to anything.
Not giving up means no matter what - no matter if you've just made the ugliest soap, the soap that was your biggest disappointment, you've dumped a bucket of oil all down the front of you and in your kitchen, you've forgotten for the umpteenth time to add fragrance oil, you misplaced your recipe and can't remember what your ingredients, you screwed up your first order or if you lost money on your first show - just don't give up. It gets better.
I can't guarantee it'll get better. I choose to believe it will because anything I've ever done has either gotten better or worse and both are clear sign posts on my path. Which I find incredibly helpful to where I'm going.
You'll work out the kinks. You're new to the craft. Mastering anything takes time. That's why we look to those who have experience.
Nothing new is ever smooth. If it easy sailing for you, be astounded and enjoy it!
I've started many businesses - some succeeded and most failed. Even the big one, for me, that succeeded wasn't what I thought it would be and I ended up selling my portion to pursue other endeavors. Success doesn't always look like we intended.
The best soap I've made so far has been from me seeing what I created, and moving with it, not against it. Those that were the biggest failures are because I wasn't paying attention or had an expectation of the out come. Designs can be fickle.
Now, there is something to be said for making what you intended. For example, if you've decided to make chocolate chip cookies you certainly don't want peanut butter cookies. And, in the beginning to keep yourself in forward motion, amplifying your love of soap-art, don't put unnecessary roadblocks up, just adapt and over come.
The simple goal is to make a bar of soap that safely cleans your body. On the short side of that, it can always be re-batched or shredded for laundry soap if its just butt-ugly. And even ugly soap cleans. You won't kill your clothes, and you probably won't kill any people - probably. The worst case scenario with soap is, more than likely, the soap will be high in lye and won't feel good on your skin. For a safe bet, just lick it. Yup, lick your soap. If it doesn't zing like a battery you're probably okay. Or get Ph strips, that will tell you where the Ph (potential hydrogen: alkalinity/acidity) is, but it doesn't tell you how it feels on your skin. Be your own test subject.
When you're done comparing your just-okay-soaps with other soaps by master soapers (who have been doing it for years or have a crap-ton of batches under their belts) make another batch. The worst thing to do is compare your soap with someone else's and stop making your own. That lesson is applicable to all artistic endeavors.
Every person is unique. No two artists will render an idea the same way. And with soap, there are so many possibilities.
Now, get in your soap lab (or kitchen, same place) and make more soap!
If you're feeling down about the last failed batch of soap, because it really is ugly, then support someone else. Its difficult when you want to feel sorry for yourself, but remember, this activity, soaping, is meant to create joy. Joy for you and for others. You can't do that if you're feeling down. Practice this behavior by setting your own soap aside and encouraging someone else. It really does make soaping much better.
Soaping is Meant to be Fun
I tell myself this often. If I want to be stressed I can go back to work for JoAnne's (or not). That was NOT fun. I soap because it is fun. Its exciting to wake up and unmold and cut into soap from the previous day. Its exciting to see if my experiment yielded the results I wanted, or better. Its exciting to share my discoveries with other soaper. All this is fun for me.
I ask a ton of questions. I don't mind showing how much or little I know, I've grown far more by asking questions and adding to my personal library of knowledge than I ever did by being embarrassed to ask a question. We're not in grade school. Those rules don't apply. Don't worry. Just plow ahead and ask.
Another trick I use to get past myself, and my ugly soap, is to offer what I've learned about the last soap. No matter if I judge it ugly or beautiful, it was an experiment and my experience. I learned something. I better have learned something! This is my soaping apprenticeship. I'm not even close to being a master soaper, or as like to call myself, a Soap Witch. (Its just more fun to think of it this way, something the women who came before me did that they didn't have a scientific way of explaining.) Since I'm still apprenticing, I better be learning every day on every batch. Well, that's a life standard too, so take it for what its worth, but keep soaping!
You never know who will love your soap!